livescience.com "Why Religion Makes People Happier (Hint: Not God)"
*Religious people are more satisfied with their lives than nonbelievers.
*It's not the relationship with god that makes them happy.
*The satisfaction boost may come from closer ties to earthly neighbors.
"According to a study published today (Dec. 7) in the journal American Sociological Review, religious people gain life satisfaction thanks to social networks they build by attending religious services. The results apply to Catholics and mainline and evangelical Protestants."
""We show that [life satisfaction] is almost entirely about the social aspect of religion, rather than the theological or spiritual aspect of religion," Lim told LiveScience. "We found that people are more satisfied with their lives when they go to church, because they build a social network within their congregation."
The linked article is short and readable. I like livescience.com and read their articles frequently. They discuss scientific research in an accessible way.
I think this article hints at why I like Atheist Nexus: even though it's remote and virtual, I have a network of friends here who have mutual interests. It makes life a little better. It's also why I promote our local meetup. Not out of some theory that it will make life more satisfying, but because I've made friends who I admire and who think a lot of me, and because I really enjoy the time we spend together. I can be myself, open and relaxed about it, and I suspect the same is true for others who attend. Currently we meet at a "Church of Pizza" so to speak. It's great.
Other groups have come together at least partly because of Atheist Nexus as well. There have been some local groups, and the Black Freethought group met last year. I would like to think of Atheist Nexus as a catalyst to bring people together, bullding the kind of social networks that christians find in their churches.
This fall there was a small exodus of disgruntled members from Nexus, I guess for ideological or personality reasons. I really miss some of them, and this is why. They were part of my network of friends. Even so, looking at the bigger picture, I feel some purpose here, and coose to stay.
Comments appreciated. It's nice to see what people think, or if they are inspired, or if they think it's BS. Well, that last part can sting, but everyone is free to their opinion.
Thanks for the article. I'm happy overall and don't attend religious services. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if part of the reason I'm happy is because is *don't* go to church. No hearing about how nasty we lowly humans are, no one trying to convince me I'm going to hell if I don't do X, Y, or Z.
I think it's good that this article points out the social aspect of religion as being the likely source of the alleged beneficial results of church-going. But how much do you want to bet that's not what many/most people will get out of the article? They'll think "Going to church makes you happy, so that means my religion must be true!"
i feel inclined to say: Ignorance is Bliss.
seriously though, the bullshit believers spew is rediculous, for all we know they feel forced to say they're extremely satisfied because that's what their religion teaches them.
"we are right, we are good, we are happy, we are good christians"
that's my opinion anyways.
What struck me most about the article was that it identified community, and not beleif, as a source of happiness for religious people. I suspect that atheists are less likely to focus on communicty, compared to christians, for a numbe rof reasons. It's also all relative, anyway, and there are religious ascetics or monks who can sit on a mountain alone and not want anyone around, and there are social butterfly atheists too.
If there was a scale of "nonsocial / social", with nonsocial "I want to live in the Mount St. Helens wilderness and raise goats and never see another person again" as a "1" and "I want to surround myself with people 24/7 and have hug parties and never spend a moment alone" as a "10" I'm probably a 3. Also Im much more social on the internet than in person. Crowds make me nervous. People in my face make me want to cover my head with a paper bag and pretend to be asleep. But there are individuals and some small groups that I can't get enough of and Im almost giddy in those situations. That's my "church" and I understand what people say about valuing their church because of the sense of community that it gives.
@Sentient Biped "People in my face make me want to cover my head with a paper bag and pretend to be asleep." I often feel the same way, as you may have guessed from my profile pic!
I would say for me, it depends on the day. Some days I'd like to be invisible and do my own thing (a "1" or even a "-2" some days), other days I really need and like interacting with people in person or online. So I can definitely see a sense of community as helping people.
But I don't think of the socializing I do though as being instead of church. They have their things, I have mine. Some people go for hockey, some don't. I don't go for hockey or religion, but if it makes them happy, fine with me just as long as they don't shove it in my face (bagged or not) or force me to talk about hat tricks or the trinity all day.
And no, I'm not saying that hockey is as crazy as religion is. Extreme ironing, on the other hand...
Hey Ryan, morphine is something I know a little about. I can't say about, say, people on pot - maybe they are happym I don't know.
I've managed narcotics for many people who have (or had) pain problems. You can find an occasional person on chronic narcotics who is happy, but the overwhelming are miserable! The body adapts to the euphoric effects, so it takes more and more to get that effect. On the other hand, the body does not adapt to side effects like constipation, loss of libido, urinary retention, slowed stomach function, increased anxiety / panic attacks, and asthenia - a vague sensation of ill being, fatigue, lack of energy, lack of will to do anything. Plus, the brain's pleasure receptors re-set, such that in absence of narcotic, there is a sense of "not-right" that can persist for months or years after stopping. Plus, withdrawal is a real bitch - which is why these are so addictive, even if people aren't enjoying being on them. I could go on.....
Maybe your metaphor still applies - religion has plenty of side effects too, and is addictive even when the sense of euphoria ends....